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wealthy family. and as a consequence of that, he will serve his sentence, my recollection is, i just read it -- i think it was two years home confinement, home confinement and a $600,000 condominium in florida. so my question is, where would be the justice in that? and there is something to be said, i suppose, for weighing the benefits that would accrue to the family, all this money they would be getting, but it ticked me off. [laughter] >> wow! >> it's a good issue and, unfortunately, we don't have any time to discuss it because we have -- i will invite you -- invite you all to have the -- buy the tribune and read the story. it's an incredible pleasure to read a book and then meet the main characters and the authors at the same time. you will have i hope the reverse experience of having met the
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main characters and you can buy this book. there's going to be a signing right after this. just probably down the hallway here and you can say hello to jovan and to laura and to get to meet them. thank you all for coming to this. [applause] >> i think you'll find there's a lot of -- a lot of detail and information in this book that we could not possibly get to today. the story is pulitzer prize-winning historian gordon would presents a series of essays examine the underpinnings of the american revolution. mr. wood explained the origins of american exceptional listen, the founders' belief of the university of the of the revolution and the radicalism of
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republicanism in the 18th century. this is about an hour and 20 minutes. >> it's good to be here with you. >> i just want to say one thing to the audience before we start that it's a treat. gordon is one of the -- he really is one of the nation's preeminent historians of the revolutionary period, if not the p.m. and mary historian and he is learned and at times, and i say this in the best sense of the word contrary in, and he says what he feels, and his book, the idea of america is a fabulous book and he will be doing a book signing afterwards if i'm not mistaken. and it is one of those books that if you love history, not just the revolutionary period, but history in general, this is something you should have on your bookshelf. having said that, and i'm hoping for 10% afterwards. but i thought we would do is
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start up by -- i would like to ask general questions about history and then talk about you a little bit and then he is our way into the book as well. to start, since we are here at the national archives, the first thing that i wanted to get your thoughts on was that the following. many of us in the historical field have lamented the lack of historical knowledge among young people. can you take a second and tell us why is it important that we study history? >> history is to a society i suppose what memory is to an individual without knowing where you came from, what your background is you would be lost. i think there's a movie where a man has no memory. it's just -- imagine how terrifying that would be not knowing your past. and i think that's for society a comparable situation. if you don't know where we come from, it's going to be difficult to know where we are going to
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go. and so i think to get our bearings where our directions, we need to know where we've been. so that's the classic answer to why we should study history. i think it is the queen of the humanities and the doubt without knowing history i think one is living in a two dimensional world, not experiencing the reality is about to be experienced. i think history is a mode of understanding and as important as the other senses and once you a acquire a historical sense and it isn't just information about the past, its once you study history and reedy enough your default what i would call for a historical sense so you see the world differently, and it and added dimension on the will of the reality, and suddenly look whole world appears different, the perception of your presence is different because you have
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the standing of the past. >> as we sit here speaking, these set of remarkable momentous events are sweeping the world today in the middle east, the so-called era of spurring where people are rising up trying to grab a piece of a greater say in their destinies and sensed -- better sense of self determination. what do you think the founders could teach them and in the same breath what can they learn by looking of the experience of america as young americans wrestled with setting up their republic? >> well, presumably these people are seeking democracy, that's what we are told and that's true they want to vote, they want all the other things that come in their mind with democracy. they see how the rest of the world is living and they want a share of that. i think the issue is democracy
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is hard work. it does not come easy and authoritarian governments are easy to put together a and the world has always had authoritarian governments, monarchies although it's the wrong word to use not because half of nato is made up -- we have a lot of the mind monarchies, eaglen, sweden, holland, so marchi isn't quite the word but that's how the founders saw it. markey was the enemy and they meant offer rotarian governments. authoritarian governments have existed in a timely memorial because it's difficult to govern a democracy because democracy has to be governed from the bottom-up. people have to be willing to sacrifice their selfish interest for the good of the whole. that's what the founders meant by virtue. classical terms, during some of your private interests for the sake of the public good. it required a lot of self sacrifice, and it's not easy to do.
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montesquieu, who is the leading french philosopher of the 18th-century, very much read by the founders said that democracy can exist only in small states because you can't build a consensus if you have a large and diverse population. there was a very, very important principal with which the founders had to confront when they were drawing up the federal constitution. because montesquieu would not at all be surprised by what happened when tivo for example was removed, the authoritarian removed from yugoslavia. suddenly the serbs and the other ethnic groups were at each other's throats in the yugoslav zakaria commesso or when the soviet union was removed, suddenly all of the various parts began fighting with one another key would have set of course once you remove this authority from the top down, then these various ethnicities and these differences are going to come to the floor, and they
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make democracy very difficult because people have to willingly surrender some of their selfish interest, and that's not easy to do. founders would have been and they became very pessimistic about the ability of other people to become space. they fought the french were following them. ten years later and of course many french leaders thought so, too. lafayette, who was out the outset was one of the leaders of the french revolution 79. he said the key to the bastille to the prison and of course and france it was still july 14th, still celebrated as the beginning of the french revolution he said that to george washington and it hangs today in mt. vernon. that was his way of saying to washington you, americans are responsible for our revolution and americans assumed that, that they were responsible and they
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thought they were responsible for all the revolutions that took place in the 19th century that somehow or another the were the vanguard spreading the democracy around the world. but when the french revolution was spiraling as you've written about in your great book degree of evil, spiralling into tyranny, then they became pessimistic about the ability of the people to be like them which gave us that notion or gave them that notion that they were exceptional. exceptional some, the fema that is a very controversial, is in comparison with europe. but the whole, the dream and that other people would fall less has always been there and that is one of the articles or one of the essays, my last essay in the book is why america wants to spread democracy around the world. we want to do that from the very beginning. not necessarily send the troops, but by example, buy showing the world that we could do that.
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and that's what lincoln was all about in his mobilizing the north with the last best hope that could we survive, because the memorial was already backed. >> napoleon iii was in the new empire and so lincoln was appealing to that dream we had to keep hope alive. >> would they be saying hey, this should be happening quickly, or it took us time or many years as an enlightenment tradition they are not coming out of that tradition. >> they didn't have a single vision. someone like jefferson would be
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very enthusiastic and helpful. he had a unanimous view of human nature and people are naturally good hearted, he felt, just got rid of the oppressive authoritarian government and let people just love one another and everything will work out. hamilton on the other hand is very pessimistic, cynical of our human nature, and he would be very pessimistic about what's happened. he would think we will see. the one of thing they would say is that voting is a prerequisite of the most. people should vote but it's the least important part that for the fallacy comes in. they tend to think voting by itself can solve the problem when you need a society you need all those institutions which make up our civic society which they discovered what you'll.
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bowling leagues, anything that ties people together and makes the world more complicated than simply you as an individual in the state that no democracy could work with that kind of gap they wouldn't have put it in these terms this is what political scientist we will talk about it today but they understood the democracy was hard work and does not come easily. >> very interesting. sticking on this for just a second i want to switch our frame for a second. a lot has been written about or talk about how our readers that in the need to know more about history presenting a more mullen stock framework in terms of how much of our readers can learn from history as the sikh policy. tell us a little bit about that if you can.
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>> a very tricky issue. obviously, we hope the readers understand our past because they carry a line of tradition, so they have to have some grounding in america's past or else i don't think there's any doubt of that. of course too much historical consciousness can have problems as pointed out if you want to be a man on horseback, forget past because the more you are aware of difficulties and the anticipated consequences of action that history does bring there is no doubt that history teaches you nothing quite works out the way the perpetrators intended, and if you absorb that message you are going to be paralyzed, you're not going to -- you want to create contrary results, and that is perhaps one
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of the lessons of history. i don't think there's much danger of the leaders becoming paralyzed in that sense, so i think that probably we can take a little more. history takes you off the roller coaster of the notions these are the best times or the worst of times. to get perspective on things and therefore you get a sense that look, it's not as bad as you think it is or it's not as great as you think it is, and that's probably healthy for any society, and i think they are a healthy society compared to many people in the world, so i am confident that we have just the right balance i think for the most part. you're not on the roller coaster. the press can get very excited and feel that this is the end, how people feel that the united states is declining, and remember the 1980's japan was going to take over, they bought rockefeller center and the
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various other of history. well, it didn't happen and it needed to have more perspective and not it's going to be china that is going to bury us. i think we are going to be around a little while longer. that is what history does. .. >> the questionnaire asked is interesting in itself. i gave a talk to people like this audience here and
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inevitably someone will say well what would thomas jefferson think of affirmative action or what would george washington think of the invasion of iraq? those are really fascinating questions that people ordinary people, will ask. you can imagine other countries doing that. i don't think anyone in england would say well what would one of the -- think of david cameron's government? they just wouldn't have that kind of questions that we have a connection with these founders, an intimate connection and it is easy to block that and historians have locked it. i don't lock it. it is not so easy to mock lincoln. he felt and he said i think in 1858 in a speech, he says we -- lead of our blood, flesh of our flesh. that is really identifying with them. and he says there is an electric
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cord that ties us to them and i think that is the feeling we have that this is the source of our identity. we go back to these people to find out who we are. they created their institutions by which we still govern ourselves. they infused into our culture almost everything we believe, our ideals, our highest aspirations come out of the revolution. the revolution is the most important event in our history and so it is natural for us to go back there because there is nothing else that holds us together. we are not a nation in the usual sense of the term. there is no american ethnicity. every race, creed and color is here in the united states and we are not like the british or the english or the french or the germans. they have a sense of their ethnicity, of their nationhood, which make it very difficult for them to handle immigration. we think we have an immigration problem but i think they pale in significance to the problems these european, these european
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people are facing and will face over the rest of this 21st century as we have this massive movement from the south to the north. you know those arabs have been living in france for several generation and yet most frenchmen can't believe that they are really french. we don't have that kind of problem. really, compared to europeans and it is because there is no american ethnicity and what makes us one people are these ideals. to be an american is not to be somebody but to believe in something and what do we believe him? the things that came out of this founding and out of this revolution. a quality, liberty, constitutionalism and the institutions that the constitution created so i think we can go back and that is why i think people have this instinctive relationship with them. they identify with them in this unusual if not unique manner,
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feeling their flesh of our flesh or blood of our blood as lincoln said. so that is where we get -- make we reaffirm who we are by going back to the stutter so that is why they had the special importance even though they differed all among themselves on the right you have hamilton who is very very pessimistic about human nature and then on the left you have a radical like jefferson who has had a very magnanimous view of human nature. they differed tremendously and yet we lump them together because they are meaningful to us. >> in the spirit if not lumping them together, let's pretend you were able to attend a dinner party with the founders. who is the one founder you would most want to sit next to? >> well, i think franklin and jefferson would be the most interesting. adams would be too. george washington whom i respect the most would not be a good dinner partner.
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[laughter] he just didn't talk much, and he was not in his -- he had no intellectual pretensions. he did not go to college, but he had what you want in your leader, is wisdom and he was a great leader and of course he stands head and shoulders above all the others in their eyes. now we tend to lump them altogether in our eyes. they are all part of that founding group but in their eyes there was one person who stood way ahead of them and that's washington. they concocted the presidency because, and they gave it so much power simply because they knew george washington would be the first president and he could be trusted with good reason. he had acted in a manner that nobody had ever heard of before except for this distance. that is to say he had surrendered his swords to this authority is that i'm going back to my farm in mount vernon and i want no more public office. now no general in recent history
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had ever done that or even going back to julius caesar. every successful general on a politically office commensurate with their military victories, treatments and that was true of cromwell. it was true of william of orange became king of england and true of marlboro. these people want to political office and he didn't. washington didn't and they were stunned. the world was done. that is what created his mystique. it is not his victories in the war because he didn't really have too many. yorktown was essentially a french victory but he held the nation together. he army army army together and then he surrendered this position. he could have been to dictator. he could have been king and he didn't wanted and that odd people. george iii was supposed with said if he does that, retires he will be the greatest man in the world so he had this elevated position in their eyes and be represented everything they wanted a leader to be, virtuous.
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he was very self-consciously working at that. there is no person in our history who was so self-conscious about being virtuous. it is interesting and a term he often used as a cinnamon for virtue which means we don't even use the term in that way any more. disinterested means uninterested for us but for them it meant and partial, rising above one's interest. we blend the two because we can't leave that anybody is truly disinterested. i guess the only dissenters as people left in our country not judges anymore because they run for office at the state level, but umpires and referees at sporting events are the only people we really count on and being truly disinterested or even partial rising above their emotional interests or economic interest. they counted on their leaders being disinterested in washington, yet. >> yet talk about their relationship for a minute.
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it is often said today one reads all the time that politics is really vicious and by the same token, there is a general impression among many that the founders were cut out and chiseled out of marble, these austere figures somehow benignly creating this magical government called the united states of america. how did they get along with each other? >> jay in his book great upheaval knows as well as i the 1790s were one of the most vicious decades in our history. coming very close in 1798 to a civil war. as close as we become until the actual civil war. they did not get along. i mean hamilton is frightened of what's jefferson represents, and washington too. washington and hamilton on one side. jefferson and madison are leaving a fifth column that is
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going to support a puppet, french puppet regime. the french armies going to invade the united states. this is a real fear. retrospectively it looks foolish but they didn't know the future. you have to almost understand that the people tap then don't know what is going to happen to them even more than we know the future of ourselves of a feared that the federalists, the hamilton and washington's party and many federalist feared a french invasion because france after all napoleon is going into the bavarian republic and a puppet regimes oliver your. they have got all these columnists, these christenings who are very pro-french and they are going to create a puppet regime. that is the real fear and that is what lies behind the alien sedition acts of 1798. they are truly frighten. the thing that kills off the fear is of course nelson's victory at the nile. he destroys the -- napoleons
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fleet and once napoleon has no fleet then there is no fear of an invasion. now washington is truly frighten and he talks about he cannot have a french president meaning jefferson. so they were very much at each other's throats and very very frightened of one another in the 1790s and the press, we think our press is kind of rough. you know better than i, it was just vicious in the 1790s. i mean they accuse washington of being a mole during the revolution. he was working for the british government. that is the accusation that was made. it is just incredible kinds of distortion and lies that were flying about. washington would sheikh his head and just couldn't believe it and he didn't want to read any newspapers because they were saying these awful things about him. he was so desperate in 1796 to get back to mount vernon and get out of this political world.
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>> course they said of cabinets would notice he was aging before their very eyes and didn't have one cabinet anywhere he cost loudly and said my god and -- i don't think i can say this because of c-span. [laughter] >> no, he was very disillusioned by what was happening and his last letter or one of his last letters, to six months before he dies in july, the federalists are desperate to get him back into power. they want him to run against jefferson. you have to be president and you are going to save the country. this is in july of 1799, and he writes really despairing letters. he says look it doesn't matter. you can put up -- the way things are now parties are taken over. you could put up a broom stick, he says a broomstick and call of the son of liberty and the broomstick would win and he said that is true of the francophiles, the french party
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and he says alas it is just as true of us federalist. doesn't matter any more. parties have taken over. character, stature, individual character no longer meddles. matters. innocenti was right because parties have begun to emerge and were taking over and he felt his kind of leader would no longer matter. and of course that became increasingly true over the next 20 or 30 years as the society became more democratic. much more populist and by the time to get to someone like martin van buren then you were getting people who have no distinction whatsoever. martin van buren never won a battle and he never was a great figure. he was just a canny politician and he built the biggest or the best party organizations at the state of new york had ever seen and publicly has ever same and catapulted himself into the presidency but that was it the world that the founders had not
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anticipated, that popular world. when jefferson heard that andrew jackson almost won the election of 1824, he was appalled. he said that man has no college education. he is a ruffian from the west. unfortunately jefferson died in 1826 and he didn't get to see jackson actually get to be president. so they were all -- those who lived into the 19th century were deeply disillusioned with what they had, with what they had robbed. i don't know of any -- i mean franklin died in 1790 thank the way because he didn't witness this world but those who lived into the 19th century were deeply disillusioned with the populism, the kind of democracy that had emerged. it was much too vulgar, and of course. >> and of course the founders did not start out wanting to create a democracy. >> not that kind of democracy.
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they didn't have any objection to voting but they wanted -- i mean the constitution is a curve on democracy. the 1780s, one of the major problems that the founders faced was excesses of democracy, state legislatures running wild, passing what madison referred to as factional majority area and purity, something that had been anticipated by good patriots in 1776. no one in 1776 anticipated come even imagine, the kind of strong national government that came out of the constitution several years later. so something awful had to happen between 1776 and 1787 to convince people to create a national government that hadn't even been on the radar screen, had in -- been in anyone's mind and we know how strong the government is because we still live under it. the thing that happened was a series of weaknesses in the articles but more important was the fear of democracy running
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amok. and that is what led madison to create the plan and the result of the constitution which acts as a kind of limit on democracy. we have other limits. the courts, and the courts became a very important federalists device for limiting democracy. we don't like to think in these terms but -- because we have tremendous trust and the people but we know that we have built and all kinds of limitations on the people. we don't like clear, unadulterated majoritarian democracy and if the egyptians or the other mideast states create just majoritarian democracy, then they may experience some of the problems the americans faced in 1780s, because you want limits. we want liberal democracy. we want rights, individual liberties, minority rights. we have a lot of checks on
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democracy. our democracy is not just pure majoritarianism and that is a lesson they learned and that is why the constitution is so confiscated with separation of powers and the breaking up of power, limiting government because they learned the lesson in a short period of time in the 1780s. >> talk about the caliber of the founders for just one more moment. when we think of the fact that they have created this constitution that it has endured to this day, it really is a remarkable event. what happened in those 55 days when they went to philadelphia and they just wanted to redo the articles of confederation and obviously they did something both extralegal and something totally unexpected. and then related to that, if you could talk for a minute if you can just about the caliber of these people, these founders, these men, who put it all together in a way that no one else in history had ever seen.
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>> well they weren't superhuman. they weren't demagogues although jefferson referred to them. they were very well-educated, the ones at the convention, 55 min. most of them college graduates. about 34 the 55 were lawyers. they were experienced political figures. they had served in the continental congress or in their the state legislatures or had been governors, or diplomats. they were experienced people. it was a loaded convention. most of them were nationals. they wanted a strong government. the -- it is probably a good thing jefferson was abroad as minister of france because he was a late and by the federalist and he would have raise cain in the convention because i think he would have not liked the virginia plan that his friend and colleague madison propose which was really extraordinarily a strong government. so, you have a the kind of loaded convention.
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lancing neh from new york, who were real anti-federalist come to the convention and as soon as they see this virginia plan emerge and they began to grasp the implications of that they walk out. we don't want this. this is and what they bargained for and so, so the result of course is they met for almost four months. when you think of it they closed off, they close the window. they didn't want anybody to know what they were saying. they took vows of secrecy. they put guards at the door, no press. of course we couldn't get away with that today. madison later said we could never have done it if the press had been involved because this allowed people to make statements that they could not retract because if there is no record, nobody's going to hold you to it and you can move back and forth. of course there is something to be said for that kind of secrecy behind doors because otherwise if the press is there you make a statement then you are held to that and you have no compromise.
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they compromise all over the place. madison, who was the one who true-up the virginia plan, he wrote it, was deeply disappointed with the result. he thought he had two main points that he wanted. one was a negative or a veto power given to the congress over all state laws. think of it. the impracticality of it. this is a bright guy and yet he didn't think through what it would be like a 50 state citizen all of their bill to congress. congress had to locate them. to veto this or okay this. this is held madison started his veto. it was totally impractical and gets thrown out and gets replaced by article i, section 10 that lists a few things that the state can't do. the other thing i madison wanted was proportional representation in both houses. he wanted to get the states out of the federal government. no representation, no senate in other words with two senators from each state. and when that is the convention
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wouldn't go along with this. they were small states like new jersey and connecticut that said we are not giving up at least in one house we have to be represented as a state. and he loses that battle and he is in despair. he loses those two battles mid-july. he caucuses with his fellow nationalists the next day and says let's walk out. maybe we should walk out of this convention. if virginia had walked out that was the m.. he left understand virginia's the talk -- top dog. virginia has a whiff of the population in the nation. it is by far the richest, biggest aid in the territory and includes much of the present midwest so is virginia goes so does the nation. without virginia you have no nation. that is not surprising. for either the first five presidents were virginia and so when madison says to his colleagues show we walk out, that is serious. that would have ended the convention without virginia.
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they decided to stay, and they cobble together this result which medicine is not happy about. he writes a letter jefferson and you can read those letters. some of them may be here. certainly in the library of congress, where he says this thing is not going to work. i lost my negative. jefferson, it goes right i jefferson. he has been in paris for several years and he doesn't really grasp what medicine is telling him. and all he says is we should have a bill of rights. and madison just groans when he hears that. he says, and then jefferson writes to another friend in maryland, saying the same thing. it is lacking a bill of rights in that becomes a principle argument on behalf of the anti-federalist. and one of their principle arguments is almost what brings the constitution down. it is a lot of feelings. jefferson's reason for that was because his liberal friends lafayette and others said that
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no good constitution can be without a bill of rights. all of my liberal friends say that. he hasn't thought through the problem the way madison has. madison has a very intelligent answer to that question of why there is no bill of rights but it doesn't have any effect on jefferson. and the power of the notion of the bill of rights which of course is part of the english tradition is picked up by others and it becomes one of the most potent arguments for the opponents of the constitution. >> and of course knew the end of your book, you have a very, what i think is a very poignant instance where you talk about giving a speech in warsaw i believe it was, and a woman says to you okay you have been talking about the constitution. what about the bill of rights? >> this was a real extraordinary experience of my life as it was in 1976 and i was in warsaw, promoting the bicentennial of our revolution. this was before solidarity.
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acondas are still in control. my room was bugged and i had a handler all over the place. this is still -- an authoritarian state so i give this very conventional lecture on the american revolution and this young polish woman, academic racers hand and said professor would you left out the most important part of the american lucian -- revolution and of course i was done. she said as yes you never mention the bill of rights. i had taken that for granted that but this woman living under an authoritarian regime and concerned with individual liberty, she couldn't take those individual rights for granted so that for her was the most important part of the revolution. i have never forgotten that incident because it happened. it took a lot of courage for her to say that. there were people in that audience who were probably going to investigate her. i mean things were changing but it is 1980 when you have
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solidarity so this is four years before solidarity. she was going to be questioned i am sure for just even asking that question. it took courage. and i have never forgotten that. >> one of the things that you have also been describing that as a sort of pick through some of the strands of their conversation as you were talking about discord, to malt, the threat of civil war and in other words were you really talking about the american experiment was in the beginning a very fragile experion -- experiment. >> i got the idea from you, grand people, right? you deal with the larger world dealing with not just the larger clinic world. is jay's book includes russia and france as well as the united states. it was it period upgrades tom aldrich of it makes the arab spring seem tame by comparison because this was a major transformation in european world. and all of them veiled. except the united states.
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now some people could say we failed in 1861 although we survived that, but it was not easy to build a democratic quality and i think that is the one lesson you draw from that experience. and in some sense we failed because we fell apart and we killed each other at the rate of 600,000 plus men who died to build this dream, which is what lincoln used. what is interesting about the civil war is not the fact that the south seceded because people talk about secession from the very beginning. the federalist that were talking about seceding in 1803 and 1805, 1814. the south talked about secession all the way up to the actual secession so it is not a big deal but the interesting question is why did the north care? why did they let them go? what is fascinating is that
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lincoln's i think voice, the idea of america, that we are a grand experiment and it is worth fighting for that because the world counts on us. we are the last best hope and if we fail, the democracy fails everybody. people, oppressed people are looking to us and that is the message he gave. and it was inspiring. i think people -- they didn't go to war and fight and lose 300 some thousand men simply because of some economic interest in the nation. it was the genius of lincoln. not that he created these ideas but that he voiced them in a way that was appealing to people. he caught the mood of the country in a way that was able to mobilize for four long bloody years. it is just incredible. >> and he was organically connected to what you write
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about in your book and what you say is the idea of america. >> that is what he says. blood of our blood, flesh of our flesh, these founders. he is the one great president who used the founding better than anyone else. and i would say i think everybody has some connection with him. >> now, i wanted to ask you this even though it is putting on my hat is a civil war historian not the revolutionary period. was linking correct in saying that secession and this is according to what the founders are saying that secession was a legal? >> well --. >> my view is lincoln was not correct but he did the right thing anyway. >> depends on what you mean by, was it legal or illegal to leave the union? that was debatable. let's put it that way in the south had a case in debates that is how they saw the union, as a loose confederacy in the course up to the civil war the united states was always defined in the
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plural. we were much closer through those years to the present-day european present day european union then we are to the kind if united states we have now which is a very very really quite tighten it national government. so people thought of, especially in the south, thought of themselves as being part of a confederation. separate states and so when you talk about my country, they often meant virginia. when lee had we had to make that decision, he was a west point graduate. should i support the united states or support virginia? his emotional loyalty was with bridget and i think i was still strong. hard for us to understand because we have so much mobility. we don't really think of ourselves as emotionally attached, but the founders did of course in that and that is why forming the government was
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so difficult because people thought of their country as the junior of massachusetts or pennsylvania. they had 100 -- to overcome. it is similar to with e. u. faces today. how can you create a european consciousness when you are a german or a brit or a frenchman? the loyalty to your nation is so strong. how do you create this european union? well it is not easy that was the problem the founders based in creating the united states. what is it to be an american? that was very difficult and the civil war proved that it fell apart, but there was lincoln to voice the other side, that there is something that we have a dream. we have a dream that we are a nation that has an exceptional mission in the world to preserve democracy and bring it to the rest of the world. not by force, not by troops, but all through the 19th century
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pre-recorded almost every revolution with one exception. the greek revolution of 1821 and the bourjois revolution of 1830 and the revolution of 1848 which pour poor appear of all fail but we were the first state to recognize the new republican democratic regime. they get overthrown but we were the first-aid and we kept pushing for that. there is one exception as you know. we don't recognize the haitian republic which was the second republic in the world until lincoln's administration for the very reason that the south that dominated the federal government to such an extent that was just a possibility to recognize a slave regime. but lincoln did. but otherwise we recognize these other states. now the big change in 1917, that is when it takes a very interesting poll in their
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revolution. in the spring, you have bizarre abdicating. seven days later, you recognize the new russian republic and wilson is ecstatic and he is the fifth partner for his lee, his democratic league, and we are the first power in the world to recognize the new russian regime, republican regime. this is before the the communists take over. a few months later the bolsheviks overthrow the kerensky government and you have a bolshevik regime. what happens? the united states instead of being the first to -- would become the last major state in the world to recognize the soviet union. 16 years, four presidencies, i think ireland was the last that we are the last major state to recognize the soviet union. what a contrast. why?
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by explanation and i think it is the only one that makes sense, is that we saw in the communist ideology a rival to our own. we were no longer according to the soviets in the vanguard of history. this was not a species of the genus, the the revolutionary genus americanus. this was a hold of the soviet genus altogether and that was a threat. the same kind of universal aspirations of our own. so the conflict between the soviet union and the united states is really an intellectual one from the very beginning. not just competing market societies but the fact that we were faced with a rifle ideology that was as comprehensive and as universalist as our own. and the cold war really begins in 1917. now there is a blip through the war because nazi germany
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represented a much more serious threat and it seemed we were quickly back after the war. and some of you of a certain age remember president kennedy's inaugural address. we will pay any price, bear any burden on behalf of liberty and that is the cold war address and that is why we do it into vietnam. we weren't trying to get oil or rice out of vietnam. we went in there because we really feared the spread of this communist ideology. and with the collapse of the soviet union in 1989, everything changed and now i think we are in a state of confusion, not sure where we are or what we should do that we are at an extraordinary moment in our history. our military expenditures are equal to, almost equal to all the other nations in the world put together. we have a million men and women under arms and troops in
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probably 40 countries. no country has ever dominated the world as we do. this is just extraordinary. rome never did this. britain never do this. we have a stone this. it may not be an empire in the usual sense of aware but it is an extraordinary kind of dominance and yet we are not quite sure what we should be doing. and that i think came out in the libyan business and it is our hesitation in the middle east. we are not sure that this is good for us. we will have to see. at the same time we can't stand in the way of people wanting to be democratic. so we have had an extraordinary history and we are living in a very, a very difficult time or a significant time. >> let's go back and tie this to the very beginning. if we are talking about the soviet union, as far as the case of russia they inherited a large
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landmass and it had some 800 years of history. they had czars who ruled the world. in our founding and you write about this very powerfully and it is a fascinating discussion when you talk about the audacity of young americans in this little landmass at the edge of the world and somehow they thought they were going to remake the world. how did that come about? and when you think about it, this is a country of two or 3 million people. 3000 miles from the centers of civilization on the outposts of civilization. the idea that they -- their colonial value had worldwide significance is really arrogance if you think about it. just the audacity of these people to think that, yet they did and of course there were radicals in europe who agreed with them. richard price, the english radical was a unitarian minister and he said in 1785 the american revolution is next to the birth
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of christ. and he is a minister. it is the most important event in the history of the world. only the birth of christ was first. that is an extraordinary statement that others felt in french. people weren't interested in this revolution because it was a republican revolution. cuday republic, meaning a democracy. i think that is the best way for us to understand it. could it survive especially over such a large extent? they were wondering too and of course the british thought oh my god this thing won't last. this is bound to fail because democracy does can't be that big. it is going to go kaput very quickly and that was the expectation and of course that is what americans are thinking about. that is what lincoln, why he is so obsessed with why we are an experiment. we have got to show them. of course the british were just hoping that the civil war would break the country apart. you know, the british never
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studied american history very much and when i started studying it was only in the late 20th century. they studied only one subject, the civil war. what else would they study? they were just hoping that this may be what, differently if we study it. lasko but americans were thrilled with this notion that we were in the vanguard of history, that we had a message to bring to the world and that is how we saw ourselves. it may be delusional. the french never have admitted that our revolution was more important than there is. in fact, they somehow think that there's came first. [laughter] they can't really admit that 1776 precedes 1789. that the americans. >> they may be a story is but we can do that. >> i mean the americans never forgot that we were the first and we always assumed that the
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french were copying us. as i said, some frenchmen agree to that, but for the most part people in the mid--- there is a classic example of this kind of american chutzpah. napoleon the third gets overthrown in 1870. the third french republic is established. president grandson saeb message to the new french republic congratulating him on adopting american political ideals. [laughter] i mean you can imagine what these frenchmen must have thought with this message. they had no democratic or republican image drawn. well you have become american is what grant was saying to them. it was incredible the kind of self-conscious, i guess you would call it audacity or arrogance that we had that we were the center of the revolutionary movement throughout the whole 19th century and of course that is why we were so upset by this soviet takeover of the russian
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revolution. we were in the vanguard of history. we were leading the world and they are all going to follow us. we have continued to have that sense that we have something to say to the rest of the world. but i think it is a little confused now because we are so powerful. it was easier for the americans in the 19th century because they didn't have huge armies. they warned powerful. therefore we could preach as much as we wanted without causing any great trouble in the world. nowadays it is a little trickier. >> gordon, think we have had a fascinating hour. what i would like to do at this point is get the audience involved and let's do some q&a. there are microphones here on the side, so try to line up with those microphones because this is being taped and he will be on c-span.
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>> okay, all right. i thought that -- this is a really great talk that you gave. very exciting. and i wanted to ask you about the practicalities that the founding fathers based. they were on the east coast, and they knew perfectly well that there was a whole long, 3000 miles to the west coast, and thought that practically speaking, they weren't going to last -- let just anybody occupy that area so i thought that maybe there was that as a kind of inspiration to think of yourself as important. you really had quite a task ahead of you and and a really
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rich part of the world. >> well, until 1803, the united states did not own the territory west of the mississippi. but i think someone like jefferson who is our greatest expansionist in our history had a vision that all of that territory would come to us. he had what i would call demographic imperialism. we were introducing ourselves twice as fast as any other nation in western europe. we were doubling our population every 20 years or so and he assumed that we would simply taken over. as long as it was being held by the spanish hoover in his mind a decrepit, declining empire, incapable of holding onto that territory, neither the florida's or louisiana would be held by the spanish for long. our demography, our population growth would spell out because
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they weren't sending any people. they had mexico but demographically, the spanish were not people and their land. so we assumed and i think jefferson would bet that would all come to us. when the spanish trade, treaty richard cedes louisiana back to the french in 1802, that is a crisis for jefferson because the french are different people altogether. there are powerful. this is napoleon and he is beside himself. this is when he makes an effort. so, to answer your question, they had an awareness that we would eventually -- some people, some leaders had the sense that we would people this land. jefferson had a very loose view of government. he thought it would be very much a confederation, separate states. some people say this western portion will break away from the
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original united states. he said what does it matter? as long as they think america and we can live with them and the western confederacy would be okay so he didn't worry about the breakup of the unions. as long as they thought american and had american principles. others, they contemplated the future. madison thought that 200 years later the predictions of we would become like england, very luxury loving and big states. so they had dreams of the future but for the immediate future, they still have problems. they had written on their north, canada and spain was still on the south. so everything was a little tricky. but they had the vision of their convention taking over the whole continent and more than a continent. mexico, cuba. jefferson thought cuba would actually fall to us like -- i don't know what he thought was going to happen all of those
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spanish-speaking people then. yes, sir. >> it never occurred to me, you had mentioned the delay of the american recognition of the soviet union. but since you did, i am wondering, isn't this conventional wisdom a little bit messy again because i always thought the attitude of the ambassador job in berlin in 1933 with whom we did have relations with hitler's germany but buddy how the government of that period as a group of psychopaths and gangsters who came to power by illegitimate means. and one could really say the same about lennon's seizure of power. so was this really backward on our part or was this some fundamental illegitimacy of the communist regime from the start and not just some ideological and the? >> well, the fact that we were the last said something and obviously the other western
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powers, we sent troops in to try to put down -- i'm not an expert on the russian revolution, so there are people here who probably know more and i'm sure jay does too, but the western powers were frightened by the communist threat and we made efforts to put it down by force even and he even sent troops. but i don't think that -- wille could be that the rise and this would be an interesting -- i don't know the answer to this, the rise of gnosticism played into our recognition of fdr's recognition of the soviet union and 1934. 33, okay. yes, sir, go ahead. oh yeah, go to the other side. >> congratulations. great questions, very lucid answers. i'm hoping you could address the issues dealing with the political -- this is intended to dovetail into your discussion about how america and the
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idealism of the founders was to very much in detail affecting the world with the idea of democracy and the political exception and i would like for you to define it for the audience. >> exceptionalism? >> the political -- wherein there's a treaty. many countries recognize way back in history, where freedom fighters from let's say russia could come to america after committing political since back in their country. there is a treaty of non-extradition back to the country where they were sent so there political affinity is not treated as. >> i don't know if there are any extradition treaties in the early republic. we certainly welcome the refugees from europe, and there were no visa requirements in those days through the 19th
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century except for late in the century, the asians were restricted, asian immigration. but otherwise anybody could come to america and between 1820 in 1920 about 35 million people migrated, which condense a lot of americans that the oppressed people of europe were unable to overthrow their oppressive government, they are tyrannical governments and the only way that they could get away from these monarchies was to migrate to the united states. so it helped convince americans that they were chosen people in a very literal sense, not just a divine sense and it further that image of ourselves. of course a lot of these people migrating from europe were leaving because there were no jobs in europe and they were going not just to the united states but also to argentina for example. but we didn't know about that. we thought they were all coming here and that is part of the myth of america. we have a conception of ourselves, but i follow what you are saying about exceptionalism. we were the exceptional nation
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through the 19th century because we were the only democracy and we work where people went who wanted freedom. that was our image. falls are not false, whatever, you can argue about it but that was the self-image that americans had. and it was shared by lots of people and why do we have a statue of liberty given to us by the french? that notion that we were their receptacle for millions of people was very much a part of our self-image, our conception of ourselves. >> hello. i'm a student at marshall high school, and i was wondering because the freedom ideal of the revolution was so widespread in the colonies. everyone was talking about and it was an oppressed but i wanted to know to what extent of the founding fathers manipulate the populace into forming an organized rebellion against the british? >> yeah, i think you can
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manipulate certain things but i don't think you can manipulate a whole people into revolution. i mean, there are incidents that are crucial. for example the tea party. in december of 1773, that was a really bold action on the part of samuel adams and the radicals in massachusetts. they wanted an incident. they were trying to provoke the british government because things had quieted down. the british had passed the stamp act and then boycotts, riots and they would draw the stamp act. very difficult for parliament to take back what they had done, a very difficult decision. than the townshend duties. there are riots, boycotts. they pulled back the townsend duties except are the one on t and then things were acquired. nothing is happening. samuel adams wants a revolution. and he wants to provoke the british. and so he and a bunch of people disguised as mohawks, indians,
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dumps 10,000 pounds, pounds value, of silver, and millions of dollars today, into washington harper. that provokes the british in a way that was probably a mistake to coast the virginians are appalled by this tea party. i mean this is destruction of private property. what are they doing? they are destroying property. the british however have had it. they have appeased the americans all along for a decade. enough is enough and they come and what they course of acts. they close the port of boston and put a military general as governor. they do away with, they abrogate the massachusetts charter, appointed counsel to be elected. they do away with with the town meetings except for one meeting a year to evoke funds. this is the fear of the
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massachusetts government and the virginians say wow. without virginia you know there is no revolution. virginia as i said is top dog. said the virginians are very upset by the tea party but when they see the courses acts they say if they can do that in massachusetts they can do that to us. from that moment on, virginia is on board and the revolution i think is inevitable. some confrontation is inevitable so there was an incident by a small tiny minority. it was really bold. it was tricky. it could have backfired if the british had come in moderately, which is asking a lot. the virginians might have said, we are not going to come to their support. and it might have fizzled at that point. they might've had to wait for some other moment but in that sense there is a little bit of manipulation. but you don't manipulate a whole people to a revolution. there was too much populist support for it.
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>> thank you for your excellent presentation. in your view, today's world with a 20 minute news cycle, c-span, cnn, fox, twitter blogs, facebook and you mentioned briefly about the secrecy. could we have built the same democracy if we would have the same instantaneous communications and news cycles that we have today? thank you. >> i would say you would have had this arab spring without all these things, twitter and instant communication. that really is the moving force of these rebellions that have taken place. i mainly mean we live in a different world now and everything gets telescoped. i just think that -- so i think we really would not have had the spread of rebellion and rioting in the middle east without these modern forms of technology that create instant information. in the 18th century there
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might have been -- the brits might've held off. if they could have communicated back and forth quickly they might've been able to -- things might have worked out a little better. they might have delayed the process because it was a peculiar revolution because the americans were revolting on behalf of english rights. it is a very peculiar revolution and you have to take that into account. the reason that the french revolution failed and the american revolution did not is because the americans had 100 years of self-government. we forget that. we forget that massachusetts virginia and pennsylvania had been in existence. elections? they didn't have modern democracy but two out of three adult modern males could vote. we have the bill of rights. we had english bill of rights and habeas corpus and trial by jury. we have experience in self-governing so it needed so
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much easier for us. the french hadn't had a parliament or a stage general that have met since 1614 so they had nothing to draw on. they had no experience with electing people. it is not surprising they spiraled into tyranny so we have got to keep that in mind. we are deeply indebted to our british heritage because of all those rights that we are part of our common law and part of our traditions. so that made a big difference for them. >> professor what, thank you for being here. in your work, the americanization of ben franklin, you recount how benjamin franklin testified in front of parliament that the u.s. or america as it was, could not be governed by parliament and yet was still loyal to the king. could you distinguish how for a america the idea of loyalty to the king was different from loyalty to parliament and how
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that would work as a practical matter? >> that is a complicated issue, but it is crucial to the revolution. the reason franklin testified, because the rocking ham quakes were now in control and they wanted to repeal the stamp act to get rid of these riots but at the same time they were great believers in elementary sovereignty so they get this power but they had to bring in the only american famous american who was benjamin franklin said he comes and testifies but yes the american people will not accept the stamp act and that gives them a cover for repealing the stamp act. but they couple this with a declaratory act that says in effect, look we are repealing this but we have the right to do it. don't kid yourself you americans. they sought parliament of sovereign lawmaking authority in the british empire and we had the right to pass the stamp act. we were were just withdrawing it for a practical sake but don't
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get the message wrong. that is the declaratory act. now that issue, you see the englishman parliament has a sacred quality to it. the parliament represents the people. the king in english history is always the enemy of the people. english history is a contest between going back to magna carta. tyrannical kings and the people represented in the house of commons from the 13th century on. and so they see their politics in those terms. parliament has a sacred quality. to the americans parliament can't have that quality, and they oppose parliament in 1765 and 1767 and so on. and the british are a little confused by that. how can you oppose parliament? parliament is a sacred ration of liberty. it is the king that is always a threat to liberty that the americans don't quite see it that way and they are forced by the doctrine of sovereignty. you have to have one final lawmaking authority somewhere
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and when they're confronted they are confronted with that choice, and they say all right, we are not into parliament. we are tied only to the king. and that is when the declaration of independence is so interesting if you read it. it is a series of -- george iii had done this and the things he has done, they never once mention parliament. the parliament passed the stamp act. the parliament passed the towns of duties and yet when it comes to the break, there is no mention. the closest you get is you george iii with others. [laughter] that is the key to the declaration. that is as close as they come because constitutionally we have reached a point by 1774, forced into it really by the british argument that we are not under parliament at all. we are tied only to the king. it is often called the commonwealth theory of the
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empire. anticipate the statute of westminster of 1931 which sets up the present present-day commonwealth. that is the queen of england is queen of england and queen of canada, queen of new zealand, queen of australia but each of those parliaments is free. so that is the commonwealth. we anticipate that commonwealth in 1774. we are tied only to the king and we have her own separate legislatures which are sovereign. that is why the only tie that has to be broken is the one to the king. is kind of an awkward situation because we had respective parliaments right to pass navigation laws to control our trade. so we weren't quite clear how we would explain that but nonetheless, it makes furniture sting constitutional issue. these are lawyers after all and they want everything to be legal and constitutional so we only have to break one time now. in 1776 no mention of parliament
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that would cloud the issue. so we can break only with the king. i'm not sure that answered your question. >> when you mentioned that you can't inside a whole the whole people i was wondering what percentage of people in that time were tories, loyalists? >> the had all kinds of estimates. some said one third. i think from studies that have been made using the ability of groups to raise militia, probably 20% of the population, which is in a population of 2 million, what is that? 2.5 million, that is 500,000 people so it is a healthy proportion but the majority of the population is patriot. many people were neutral, but they -- the brits never fully appreciated how few tories there were. he counts on tory support, loyal
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support. he doesn't get it. instead he gets harassed by a patriot militia and his army sort of withers and by the time he gets to saratoga he has lost a good proportion of his army. >> were some segments of the country more tory than the other? >> yeah, think there were more tories in the south and south carolina and north carolina, largely because the western portions had hated the way the east end, the scotch-irish in the west and they are easton people who are quakes and the scotch-irish had been in decades of war. so they had to, well, the enemy of my enemy has got to be my friend. so a lot of tories, there is a recruitment of tories. if you've seen the movie, the patriot, mel gibson's famous movie where he plays a south carolina planter who has hired help, black help, africans.
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he can't be a slaveholder. of course, mel gibson a slaveholder? .. then after trenton there is an exposed position. washington's crossing of the delaware. he says, oh, my god. i have to pull back. i can't leave this. the same thing a week later. he pulls back his troops. of course the patriots militia
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comes back into power, and then they harass the tories. you have a coalition of -- it doesn't get into the books because we would call its guerrilla warfare. it is pretty brutal. a lot of people killed. we don't know the stories as well as we know the pitched battle. it's all local. >> thanks for this enlightening discussion. i was sorry if he had anything on the society of cincinnati after the war. interesting that the patriots had been almost european-style society to set cummins is very delete, how did those guys then -- >> washington at first, these are my comrades. we want the society to recognize their contributions to the war. but it will be hereditary. that creates dissenter.
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the opposition is really quite pete's. i have been reading john adams. he is getting word in the 80's in england. he is just appalled by this idea of cincinnati organization. in washington, washington is very sensitive to some -- public opinion. as soon as he senses there is any public opinion he backs away. he gives the organization to promise that they will not be hereditary. of course their still around. it is hereditary. they bring enough. they have this huge society. and they have a great library. a lot of documents. it is innocuous. but there is a real fear of the bleeding aristocracy, the same kind of thing that the revolution is about.
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the revolution is anti blood. marriage only should count. people should be distinguished only because of merit, talents, not because of who your father was. that is the messes of the revolution. the order for cincinnati, a lot of people. samuel adams is fighting. there is a lot of opposition to it. it pulls in. it becomes more of a kind of lobbyist group. washington thinks he has a promise that there won't be hereditary. of course they became a hereditary organization. >> are there any more questions? >> the future? the question was what is the future of the american idea? how wish i knew. i don't think anyone knows the future. historians do not predict. i think what history -- >> if we do we are getting in
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trouble. >> with jerry would say is we have a better sense of what might not happen. we aren't going to go off the rails tomorrow. china is not going to take over the world next year. but what the future brings, i don't think anyone really knows. it is not going to happen quickly. if we are in decline -- look, the romans did not know there were in decline. they spent centuries thinking they were the top dogs. we don't know. >> now, just to remind you all, there will be a book signing after words or you can go talk to professor would and get him to sign his marvelous book which i urge upon all of you. let me give you one closing thought. not so much to high ground not, but may be a middle ground know. i don't know how many of you have seen the book goodwill hunting, but there is a very famous scene in a bar where matt damon is vying for this woman.
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she is dating, i think, at graduate students. >> at harvard. >> at harvard. he says to my thinking must be released market does he have been reading professor gordon wood. well, i don't think there is any doubt after listening to this conversation. [applause] [applause] >> the keys are my spirited. >> this event was hosted by the national archives in washington d.c. for more information visit archives bott g0 feet. >> book tv is on vacation at the university of chicago where we are talking with several professors of the university who are also others. ripleys to be joined by david strauss who is the author of the -- "the living constitution." he also teaches university at the university of chicago lawful
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-- school. david strauss, how do you define "the living constitution"? >> it's a good question. in idea that is controversial, but it really shouldn't be controversial. it is the idea that the constitution as it was drafted in 1787 and has been amended a few times since then, that constitution has to of of overtime in order to keep up with changing circumstances and changing ideas about how society should be run. >> host: what would you consider to be an evolution of the current constitution? >> guest: there are several examples. here is one. throughout the first hundred or so years of the republic, really up until the late 19th century the idea was that that federal government could be a very small when that both the federal and state governments would play a limited role in regulating the economy. then as the country became less agrarian and more industrial ideas about that changed in both
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the state legislatures and congress started to play a more active role in regulating the economy. at first the supreme court did not like that. struck down those laws as unconstitutional, but the supreme court came to see those laws are necessary and changed its view gradually to the constitutional law we have now which allows for very expensive role by both the federal government and the states regulating the economy. >> host: what is original wasn't? >> guest: the idea that one way or another the idea that any answers to the constitution we have today can be found by going back to the time the constitution was drafted or the time the amendments were ratified. seeing what they thought back then and taking their ideas back then and applying them to today's problems. that is the idea anyway if. >> host: does it work? >> i don't think so. i think it is not a workable scheme for a couple of reasons.
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one, it is really hard to figure out what their rig thinking back then. that is what historians do, and historians disagree. sometimes they just say they were kind of confused. there weren't clear on what they're doing. the deeper problems are that even if we can figure out what they thought back then, they had ideas about that society. you know, when the united states was found there was a small country, 4 million people, less than half the population of the chicago metropolitan area. it was a rural country, only 5 percent of the people live in cities. that is a whole different world, and even if we knew about what they thought about that world there would not tell us what they thought about our world. >> host: what is the controversial part of a living constitution? what do people find controversial? >> guest: what people find controversial, and it is a fair concern. while the constitution is not fixed, it does not mean today
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what it has always meant, someone is changing it. that makes us nervous because we think that that someone who is changing it is going to be some bunch of judges who are just going to impose their own views of the rest of us. that is a legitimate concern. >> host: former university of chicago law professor. a friend of yours or claims? >> guest: acquaintance. >> host: he would not agree with your premise. >> guest: let's think that is right in this sense that he says he is an original list. now in practice as a supreme court justice he understands that original is and does not work all the time. he has even said, well, i am an original list, but i am not in that. for regionalism when it is necessary. >> host: as he used the phrase debt constitution? >> guest: he has, but in order to teach those of us to believe in a living constitution. the concern is that, well, if
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the constitution is changing tell me something about who is changing it and why and when. i'm not sure i want to get on board with the people who are changing it. i think their is a concern there that needs to be addressed for. >> host: how do you blame the founding fathers' intent? is it important in 2011 to know what the founding fathers intent was? >> guest: a couple of things you can say. what you're looking for are the principles that underlie principles of the country, respect for diversity, limited government that protects liberty but is active enough to do the job of governing. if you are defining the founders' intent at that level then it is absolutely relevant. it is something that i think all of us would agree with. when you get to specifics, you know, what did they think about environmental protection or occupational safety or labor relations or things like that, then i think that is the question about the founders'
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intent that leaves you know where because, as i said, first of all, it will be hard to figure out what they thought. even if you do, that doesn't tell you what they thought about our world, which is a very different world. >> host: some of the constitutional amendments that have passed over the years, isn't that a way to make the constitution of living document? >> guest: in theory it would be, but if you look at the way that the constitution is amended, if you can get the hutu have to jump through to amend the constitution, it is just not a practical way of changing things. you need two-thirds of each house and congress, and that is only to start. then you need a three-quarters of the states to ratify the amendment. the fact is we really have not used the process to do a lot of the things that we have done by way of changing the constitution. most have come about in other ways and often what happens, actually, we change things and then amend the constitution after we already tasted and the amendment -- the amendments gets up with changes already made. >> host: the you teach "the
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living constitution" here at the cost -- university? >> guest: i t-cell lot. i don't try to. i just try to play it straight and show my students, this is what the law is. the questions it raises, the things you want to think about if you are well informed lawyer in the 201st century and the questions you're going to want to ask and adjustments to try to make. >> host: the cover of your book, "the living constitution," what was it trying to signify? >> guest: it is trying to signify a tree that is in the process of growing. growing in different directions, but the growth of the tree is really necessary in this something that we sit celebrate. >> host: would you foresee every riding of the constitution? >> guest: i don't think so. i think one of the remarkable things is that we have done very well with the constitution that we have precisely because we
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figured out ways that it can involve. it meets our problems that change the society but that does not just turn the constitution over to a bunch of judges to do with their want. i think that we found in the constitution, and this is in no small part because of the genius of the framers, we found the constitution, a document adaptable enough and capable of evolution and does not put us in a straitjacket, and that is why it is work so well. >> host: several years of government service. what were they? >> guest: the justice department for a number of years. the solicitor general's office. the. >> host: was president? >> guest: carter originally and then reagan. >> host: what courses are you teaching? >> guest: constitutional law, federal jurisdiction. administrative law, and a first-year course on legal theory designed to introduce the stevens to the bic
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